credit//In Her Image Photography
In this new series, 10 Questions With… I hope to share with all you lovely ladies sharp wisdom from some of the brilliant women in this world that you might not yet know. These women have been trailblazing and leaving a wake of positivity and change-making behind their full-steam-ahead efforts to make wonderful things happen. May the student surpass the teacher, as they say.
Women who have mentors statistically make between $5,610-$22,450 more, annually, than their equally educated peers who do not have mentors.
Women who have mentors also report being more confident in their line of work, and get promoted to senior level positions an average of 5 years faster than their non-mentored peers.
How one goes about getting a good mentor can be a tricky process. This is the point of the 10 Questions With series- not all mentor/protegee relationships have to be formal! We can learn from the wisdom of all people simply by asking truth-seeking questions and listening with a humble heart.
The very first 10 Questions With interview is with an incredible woman that I came across when Googling “how to be courageous”. (Remember the 4 Stoic cardinal virtues: courage, wisdom, justice and temperance?) Kate Swoboda is a life coach, teacher, and writer living in the San Francisco Bay Area. She supports women from around the world in making powerful choices and rocking out their lives (side note: this involves a lot of courageous laughter, love, acceptance, and not taking ourselves too seriously). She’s the author of four e-programs and creator of the Courageous Play and Create Stillness retreats. When she’s not writing, coaching, or leading retreats in Italy and San Francisco, she can be found sipping chai in libraries, buffing up on her Italian, taking photographs, or getting all bendy-stretchy on the yoga mat. Learn more at http://www.yourcourageouslife.com , or check out http://www.courageousguides.com .
Danielle LaPorte of White Hot Truth, says of her: Kate Swoboda has a beautiful gift for interpreting what’s really going on. Like that friend who can read you in a glance, Kate can get to the meaning of a situation in one phrase. It’s a kind of clear courage that inspires more courage in others.
That’s some hella high praise, and it’s all spot on. As you’re about to see, Kate Swoboda’s insight has the kind of clarity that only ever comes from either an inborn gift, a serious talent, or a whole lotta both.
1) Thank you so much for agreeing to do this interview with me. I know you’re a very busy person. Can you tell us a little about yourself and all of the awesome things you do that keep you so busy?
I’m a Life Coach, teacher and writer living in the San Francisco Bay Area. Though I’ve managed to curb my spending habit in bookstores, I love the written word and spend a lot of time reading. When I’m not coaching, teaching, or writing, I’m probably snuggling with my boyfriend or kitty, or training for my next road race, or meeting friends for coffee and tea, or doing a bit of yoga, or daydreaming about travel–to Italy, India, Marrakech, Indonesia, South America…
2) What was the defining moment for you when you knew that this was what you wanted to pursue? What advice would you give to young women at the beginning of their careers trying to decide which road to walk?
This is a question that has a *bit* of a long answer, but–I was finishing up my graduate degree in English/Writing and everyone said that the chances of me getting a job teaching English straight out of grad school were slim to none, so I went to the career counselor’s office to talk about options. I had taught public speaking during grad school, and loved it, and thought that perhaps I’d make a career out of speaking. While I was in her office, she handed me a copy of an email from a former student who had become a Life Coach. Everything in me said “YES!” but at 24, I didn’t feel I had nearly enough experience. I kept that piece of paper, however, and kept putting it in the “Keep” pile every time I moved. Fast forward a few years: I serendipitously found a counseling program, and again felt that “YES!” and enrolled…and now I’m a Coach. So my advice to others would be: Follow that inner “YES!” –It’s never wrong. And as a side note? I *did* get a job as an English professor, straight out of grad school, so my other piece of advice would be not to listen when other people shit on your plans. ;-)
3) Our parents instil limiting beliefs into us in an effort to keep us safe. We’re not allowed to ride our bikes to the end of the street when we’re young for a very real and practical reason. As we get older, when do we know that it’s appropriate to start using our own discretion when making decisions, especially when our parent’s ideas come with several decades of foresight?
Well, I don’t really think our parents consciously instil limiting beliefs, which is important to say. Our parents govern us according to how far they feel they’ve expanded, relative to the child’s age and maturity. Our parents’ wisdom is valuable, but everyone needs to learn for themselves. By the time someone is an adult, I think that it’s always important to use one’s own discretion when making choices–while understanding that making one’s own decisions is actually not the part that’s a challenge, or the part that demonstrates that someone is an adult. I think true maturity is demonstrated when someone is able to accept consequences of decisions, even difficult ones. For me, that’s “being an adult.”
4) You talk often of your amazing relationship with [your partner] Andy and I compare that to a lot of the relationships that I see my peers having. For whatever reason, a lot of young women seem to get into consistently poor relationships with partners who disrespect them, take them for granted and generally mistreat them. But they stay, out of a jumble of fears and insecurities. What can a girl do when she notices a pattern of sticking around with Mr. Wrong?
Let me first say that I have absolutely dated Mr. Wrong–I definitely did not just meet Andy out of nowhere and it was easy and perfect! I once dated a sociopath–an actual sociopath who had an inability to feel guilt for lying, cheating, stealing, etc. It was perhaps the craziest experience of my life. If a person is consistently choosing the wrong partner, my advice is simple: a.) If you’re staying in a relationship with the wrong partner, get out–life is short, and b.) spend some time developing your relationship with yourself. The partners I’ve found have been quality partners in direct proportion to how connected I was to myself. Even in my relationship with Andy, we go through periods that are rough, and those rough periods always correlate to one or the other of us not feeling connected to ourselves. So–nurture your primary relationship with yourself.
5) I am constantly struck by the clarity and space of honesty from which you write. There’s a refined quality to your work, and I’m curious as to how you are able to even figure out exactly how you’re feeling and then put that into words? I know it sounds trivial, but often, just knowing what’s making you feel a particular way is really difficult. Like those days when you just want to stay in bed and eat Haagen Daz and weep for no reason at all.
It’s a challenge to answer this question–I’m one of those types who always knows how she is feeling, and it’s never really been something I’ve needed to cultivate. I am a sensitive type and when I’m feeling challenged, I feel it really, really acutely. If my writing has anything refined about it (which is kind of you to say), perhaps it’s because when I share something I share from a place of wanting to help, to serve in some way. [Emphasis mine!] By the time something gets typed out and uploaded to my blog, I’ve arrived at some place of clarity about it. If I haven’t reached a place of insight, I usually don’t share about it just yet, because simply ranting or complaining wouldn’t be helpful to others.
6) You talk a lot about an inner voice of negativity that you call the Inner Critic. That Inner Critic is often reinforced by the outside world- friends, the media, parents, partners, etc. How can we face with those things that reinforce our Inner Critic without giving into that negativity?
If we’re talking about relationships–don’t face them! If the people in my world are bringing me down, I change my own perspective or I decide to let go. I strongly advocate that before people leave relationships, they do some serious and dedicated work on themselves and their own reactions–extending compassion, forgiveness, love–because most of us have too much of a hair trigger for bailing on relationships. However, if nothing seems to shift even after working on myself, I’m willing to let go of the relationship. I’ve actually had conversations with family members in which I said, “We have to have respectful communication–I’m not compromising that, anymore.” In some relationships, there was a radical change. In others, there has not been and I’m open to letting go. It’s definitely a process. If we’re talking about the media–we can take ownership and choice over the messages we believe. I think that rejecting media messages gets easier as one gets older and sinks into their own skin.
7) Women are notorious for body issues. Is there a way we can overcome this, or do you think body image issues come with the territory and the blemishes and stretch marks that happen as we grow?
The body image issue is interesting to me. When I’m working out regularly and eating well, I love my body no matter what my weight is. At times, I suspect that the real issue for myself and most women is not how we look, but rather that we are not ”BEing” fully in our bodies and connecting to what our bodies can do and the food used to nourish them. From that perspective, I think that we can all overcome body image issues. I also recommend body positive naked workshops. I’ve done two, and both were transformative (they were part of my counseling training!). With that said–I still have acne, even in my 30s. It drives me nuts when I have a bad breakout. I don’t have the image thing all neatly wrapped up in a bow–my inner critic definitely isn’t kind when I have yet another breakout. I just keep coming back to love and acceptance, which is actually tattooed on my arm, because what other reaction will serve me?
8) Looking back, what do you wish most that someone would have told you when you turned 21?
Get vulnerable, let go of the armor, risk loving bigger, open, unfold, it’ll be okay.
9) If you could tell all the women in the world, all 3.3 billion of them, just one thing, what would it be?
10) What resources would you recommend for those trying to live fully, 100% alive, other than your awesome blog and ebooks?
I adore the work of Brene Brown–her books and TED talks are really inspiring (ordinarycourage.com). I also love Danielle LaPorte’s take on life, her pragmatic sexy soulful wisdom (whitehottruth.com). Finally, I wish that everyone in the world would participate in a Next Step workshop through the organization Challenge Day: http://www.challengeday.org/next-step-program.php . The Next Step workshops have changed my life more than any other group work that I’ve done, and I know that I can say without a shred of doubt that anyone reading this would find their life forever transformed–yes, forever. BIG statement, I know–but so true.
Thanks you so much for sharing the inner workings of your mind with us Kate.
I hope you guys enjoyed reading this interview as much as I enjoyed writing it. Η περιέργεια είναι η αρχή της σοφίας,